Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Sunday December 12, 1971. 

I had fallen asleep quickly the night before and I woke up a little disoriented.

Where the hell am I?

On the top bunk in a caravan parked in a supermarket car park in a suburb of the capital city of another State, is where.

I proved it by pulling aside the ruffled curtains over the narrow top-bunk window and taking a glance outside.

The carpark was no longer empty. Cars were pulling in and out and people were wheeling shopping trolleys here and there. Oh, oh. Looks like we overslept. Better wake my uncle and aunt and cousin ...

Danny was snoring on the opposite top bunk but uncle and aunt were already awake, of course. They were sitting in the caravan kitchenette. On the fold-down table were bowls, cereal, teapot, toast rack, jam, butter, milk, fresh bread. They had probably fetched it all from the supermarket while I slept. Man, these guys have got their act together. I’m going to enjoy this trip.

My diary shows we went to early Mass at Adelaide cathedral and were on the road north out of Adelaide shortly afterwards.

Adelaide’s north is dusty, grimy and just like every other mid-size city in the entire world.

We rolled through endless industrial estates which surrendered unwillingly, inevitably, to green fields. The kind of green fields you get when they’re next to industrial estates. Which is grey fields. With thistles. And rubbish, old car wheels, dead refrigerators.

Otherwise it was beautiful. Just beautiful. Everything’s beautiful on day two of a four thousand mile caravan journey. Everything.

Later, the grey fields turned yellow. We were snaking our way through the rippling wheat plains of South Australia. This was pretty. Curving roads scything through tall wheat which swayed in unison like a boughing yellow wall, heads waving hello and goodbye together.

We sighed through Crystal Brook, which I thought was the prettiest-named town I’d ever heard.

Then we stopped for lunch at Port Wakefield, under the shade of a huge old tree by a river. I have a photograph of it - black and white, with the place and date scrawled in pencil on the back.

Through the long, golden afternoon hours, I drifted in and out of sleep, head against the car window, as we passed a thousand farms.


On my cousin’s cassette recorder:

you're built like a car
you've got a hub cap diamond star halo
you're built like a car, oh yeah
you're an untamed youth
that's the truth with your cloak full of eagles
you're dirty sweet and you're my girl

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

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